Stewarding Our Past, Adapting Our Present: The Disabled People's Archive, Manchester

Luke Beesley, Ella Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Disabled People’s Archive began in 2006 as a collection of journals, minutes and organisational papers, banners, cultural artefacts, and oral history resources related to the disabled people’s movement. Initially collected and housed by the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) – a democratic, grassroots, and disabled-person led activist organisation – the project’s ethos is that those with a stake in preserving the movement’s history should make the decisions about its organisation, presentation, access, and promotion. A steering team made up of disabled activists,, movement historians, and depositors was set up to manage the project and encourage other disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) (or surviving members of activist groups that have folded) to deposit historically important items with us.

This outreach element of the work was successful, and the archive is now easily the largest collection relating to disability politics in Britain. In 2019, GMCDP and Manchester Archives+ (formerly the County Record Office) made a successful funding bid to the Wellcome Foundation. This funding allowed the collection to be housed at Archives+’s facilities at Manchester Central Library, and for a small team to be employed by GMCDP to catalogue, promote, and perform access adaptations to items in the collection: all, still, under guidance and direction from the steering team and GMCDP’s elected officers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-13
Number of pages4
JournalALISS Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2023


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